The Avengers

First there was Iron Man. Then came The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America. Then, in 2012, the superhero summer blockbuster to end all others: The Avengers, which brought the whole gang together in an extraterrestrial extravaganza. Now Marvel Studios’ expansive universe has become the highest-grossing movie franchise in the world. But its heroes do not just fight bad guys. They also grapple with what it means to be a saviour in a complicated moral world; they puzzle over the ethics of powerful technology; and, as in the latest film Captain America: Civil War, they learn how to cope when these questions turn them against each other.

Heroes

Marvel has spent almost a decade creating a universe of distinct and diverse characters — sometimes fleshing out their personal journeys, sometimes bringing them together as a dysfunctional but unstoppable team. They are all ‘super’, but what really makes them heroes?

Other worlds

In the Thor films, Norse mythology comes to life in another realm known as Asgard. When he is banished to Earth, Thor must learn to live among ordinary humans. Is it possible that other civilisations actually exist? And if we find them, what should we do?

AI

In 2015, Avengers: Age of Ultron warns of the dangers of artificial intelligence. In the film, Tony Stark thinks he has created the ultimate defence program, Ultron. It has been designed to protect Earth. To do so, it wants to kill all humans. Is this something we should worry about?

Security

Captain America: Civil War is the most serious Avengers film yet. After causing massive damage during their battles with evil, the heroes are asked to submit to UN control. Should they give up their freedom for the greater good? How far should they go to protect innocent lives?

Weapons

Almost every Avengers film involves a powerful weapon that has fallen into the wrong hands — whether those hands belong to the Nazi-inspired cult known as ‘HYDRA’ or Thor’s renegade brother Loki. It is a problem that viewers may find all-too familiar.